This blog features observations from Randy Turner, a former teacher, newspaper reporter and editor. Send news items or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 17, 2019
Parson: Legislature delivered "historic session for jobs, growth and life
(From Gov. Mike Parson)
Today, the 100th General Assembly concluded, marking the end of a ‘historic’ session for jobs, growth, and life. Upon assuming office nearly one year ago, Governor Parson pledged a “fresh start” for Missourians. By working closely with members of the General Assembly, in a very short time, we’ve seen ‘historic’ progress on major issues facing our state - infrastructure and workforce development.
“This year’s Legislative Session was marked by historic progress on significant issues important to all Missourians,” Governor Parson said. “I applaud House and Senate leaders for partnering on the shared priorities of infrastructure and workforce development. Thanks to their leadership we were able to pass a comprehensive economic development strategy for growth across Missouri and take a substantial first step to meeting our state’s infrastructure needs.”
In the State of the State, Governor Parson laid out a bold agenda to move Missouri forward. The Governor’s call to focus on workforce development and infrastructure was answered by the Legislature with innovative legislation that will impact all Missourians.
ADVANCING THE NEEDS OF MISSOURI WORKING FAMILIES
SB 68, a “comprehensive economic development strategy,” includes several key elements of the Governor’s workforce development priorities. Fast Track is a new grant program that will allow Missourians to receive advanced training in high-demand fields, opening the doors for thousands of Missouri workers to gain new skills and job training to better support their families. Missouri One Start will help new and expanding businesses upgrade workers’ skills to meet their workforce demands. These are the tools Missouri needs to skill up our workforce and provide businesses necessary resources as the Governor fights to bring high-wage jobs back to our state.
“From day one, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of workforce development and infrastructure. These issues are not Democrat or Republican issues, these two priorities are key to moving Missouri forward,” Governor Parson said. “Missouri’s historic low unemployment, national leading small business wage growth, and low taxes are all working to keep our economy stronger than it has ever been. We added nearly 12,000 jobs just last month, and if we hope to continue these successes, we must put our best foot forward and compete to win, which is exactly what we’ve done this past session.”
“For years, Missouri has watched other states beat us at economic development. That ends today,” Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon said. “Missourians deserve the best, and thanks to Governor Parson and our legislators, we now have the tools to be the ‘Best in the Midwest’ and compete with every other state in the country for jobs and business growth.”
“Reimagining the way we approach postsecondary education and workforce development will provide Missourians with resources for the full range of options after high school -- from apprenticeships to certificates to doctoral programs,” Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said. “With these bold moves, Governor Parson and the General Assembly have positioned Missouri as a national thought leader in workforce development.”
REBUILDING MISSOURI’S INFRASTRUCTURE
SCR 14 will allow Missouri to begin meeting infrastructure needs across the entire state without raising taxes. When fully implemented, the infrastructure plan will allow Missouri to fix 250 bridges identified by local entities as most in need of critical repair or replacement.
“On behalf of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, I applaud the Governor for advocating for more funding for transportation in Missouri,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “I also want to thank Missouri legislators for making an important investment in our state’s critical infrastructure needs. We appreciate policymakers coming together to develop an innovative solution to help address our backlog of unfunded transportation needs in Missouri.”
STRENGTHENING MISSOURI’S #1 INDUSTRY: AGRICULTURE
SB 391 will open doors for Missouri farm and ranch families to meet growing world food demand and ensure Missouri keeps more agriculture production in our state.
“Agriculture is a family business in Missouri with more than 97% of our farms and ranches being family-owned,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “Under the leadership of Governor Parson, we will continue to make the future of agriculture a priority in this state. The latest Census of Agriculture proved that Missouri agriculture offers young people great opportunities in raising livestock like hogs, poultry, dairy, sheep, and goats. We applaud the Legislature for their commitment to strengthening our state’s number one industry and sending a strong signal to the next generation that they will have a vibrant rural community to return to. ”
FUNDAMENTALLY RESTRUCTURING STATE GOVERNMENT
The Governor’s proposal to improve economic and workforce development through a reorganization of state government was overwhelmingly supported by the General Assembly. These changes will streamline state government and ensure it produces better outcomes for Missourians.
Through these reorganization efforts, the overall size of government will be reduced by more than 475 positions. Along with cutting government waste, several state agencies were also restructured to increase their effectiveness and better serve Missourians. This included major reforms at the Department of Economic Development that decreased the agency’s size by 75%, while sharpening its focus on producing better outcomes.
Innovative solutions, such as consolidating two adjacent correctional facilities at a savings of $20 million, allowed long-overdue investments in correctional facility employees to be made, which will improve staff retention and citizen safety.
A BUSINESS SMART BUDGET THAT FUNDS OUR PRIORITIES
Additionally, the General Assembly passed a fiscally responsible budget, one that for the first time in a decade, left more than $100 million on the bottom line and kept the Governor's call to not spend every tax dollar.
In January, the Governor presented a business smart budget that funded the administration's priorities while demanding greater accountability and efficiency and making key new investments that will benefit all Missourians. In addition to new investments in workforce development and infrastructure, this year’s budget keeps our promise to Missouri’s next generation by fully funding the K-12 Foundation Formula. An increased investment in rural broadband will help continue the work of bringing high-speed broadband access to every Missouri community.
BOOMING ECONOMY: INCOMES ARE UP, TAXES ARE DOWN
Missouri’s business climate will also be improved through the passage of tort reform legislation. These reforms will improve our state’s competitiveness and provide another boost to Missouri’s strong economy created by years of pro-growth, low-tax policies. Thanks to additional tax cuts at the state and federal level implemented this year, more Missourians are going back to work, seeing an increase in take-home pay, and keeping more of their hard-earned money.
CREATING A CULTURE OF LIFE
The Legislative Session’s final day was highlighted by the General Assembly passing one of the strongest Pro-Life pieces of legislation in the country.
“I’m honored to lead a state with so many people committed to standing up for those without a voice and commend the Legislature for getting this bill to my desk,” Governor Parson said. “I pledge to sign this vital legislation as a strong message to the nation that here in Missouri we will always stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn.”